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Blame and jockey Garrett Gomez after winning the Stephen Foster
The second-richest race contested at Churchill Downs after the Kentucky Derby is the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), featuring some of the top older horses in the country going 1 1/8 miles over the main track. Conditions were excellent for this year's renewal, with a dry fast track and sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 90's. A field of 11 went to post in the main event, with Battle Plan sent off as the 9-5 favorite off a 5 race winning streak, including the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds last out. In to challenge the Todd Pletcher trainee included 4-1 Blame, winner of three straight handicap stakes races, the Fayette, Clark, and William Donald Schaefer, and 5-1 third choice Arson Squad, winner of the Skip Away and the Alysheba.
Blame (outside) and Battle Plan duel in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 11 Blame Gomez 9.80 4.20 3.00 2 Battle Plan Castellano 3.40 3.20 6 General Quarters Solis 4.00 Winning Time: 1:49.37 $2 Exacta 11-2 30.00 $2 Trifecta 11-2-6 129.60 $2 Superfecta 11-2-6-3 1,342.00
Left: Blame in the winner's circle. His trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "It set up just like everybody thought. Battle Plan was going out there comfortably ... and (Blame) got wide a little bit because of our post (11). But he overcame. He can knock those 12 and change (fractions) all day long and that should suit us down the road. He's a big, sound horse, and knock on wood, we haven't had any issues with him so far. We'll look at the Whitney, Woodward and Jockey Club (Gold Cup) - something like that - with the ultimate goal being the (Breeders' Cup) Classic. That's why we gave him the six months off just to have a fresh horse the second half of the season, which we're here now. I love when a plan comes together, which is very rare in horse racing. He's a horse that is full of ability and full of desire, and he just ran them down."
Right: Blame parades before heading to the winner's circle.
Right: Blame in the post parade. His jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I was wide going through both turns. I tried to use him a little to try and get over in the first turn and as far as I could get was four wide. I didn't want to take him back any further. My main concern was trying to come home off that pace. That's what you're always scared of and I think the farther the better with this horse. He does everything good. I was impressed with him when I rode him as a young horse. He's coming around; he's gotten a little more seasoning. He's a true professional and a pleasure to be around. I'll let him answer how good he can be."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Battle Plan returns after the race. His jockey Javier Castellano said, "I'm very happy with him today. The fractions were good today. He settled down the speed. I'm very happy with him but unfortunately he was second best today." Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "We got a perfect trip which was the trip we were hoping for. He dug in and fought hard. He was second best. It was his first time over the racetrack and I thought it was a great effort."
Right: Third place finisher General Quarters in the post parade. His jockey Alex Solis said, "I had a great trip, no excuses. The other horses were just better today. (Owner/trainer) Mr. (Tom) McCarthy wanted me to sit right off the leaders and wait."
Right: The horses break from the gate for the 2010 Stephen Foster Handicap.
Undercard stakes results and photos, includes the Fleur de Lis Handicap won by Rachel Alexandra, Jefferson Cup, Northern Dancer Stakes, and Regret Stakes.
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